Tue, May 23, 2017 | updated 02:53 AM IST

China targetting Sri Lanka's cement sector in wake of Holcim's impending exit

Updated: Jul 08, 2016 17:05 IST      
China targetting Sri Lanka's cement sector in wake of Holcim's impending exit

Colombo (Sri Lanka), July 8 (ANI): The cement market in Sri Lanka appears to be heading for an irreversible change in the wake of speculation that China is making a strong bid to enter it, following last month's announcement by multinational cement producer LafargeHolcim to sell its subsidiary Holcim Lanka Ltd.

According to reports, a Chinese bidder has taken note of the Sri Lankan Industry and Commerce Ministry's expression of interest to buy out Holcim Lanka Ltd., and reportedly is ready to offer USD 500 million, a whopping 100 percent more than Holcim Lanka's USD 250 million value.

With a total cement manufacturing and bagging capacity of around 3.9 million tons per annum (MTPA) and being the only integrated cement plant in Sri Lanka with access to captive limestone mines, Holcim Lanka Ltd. has always been an attractive strategic buy.

Sri Lanka has an overall market of around 6.5 MTPA, while China has a 474 MTPA capacity and a keen desire to export its cement.

With cement being one of the key industries for a growing country like Sri Lanka, it does not come as a surprise that Colombo is being careful about giving the green signal to Beijing to establish its presence in this sector, given that the latter has a reputation and a national strategy of "dumping" exportable products at prices that are way below what they are sold in the domestic space, or below its cost of production.

China also has acquired a reputation for capturing markets and then destroying competition. So, therefore, the Government of Sri Lanka would be assessing the short and long-term effects of it entering the cement sector.

In theory though, China could consider importing large quantities of clinkers (stony residue from burnt coal or from a furnace) using the three key port terminals of Colombo, Galle and Trincomalee, instead of manufacturing cement at Holcim Lanka's integrated Puttalam plant.

Should China be given permission, in the short term with a well funded loss plan, it will flood the market with low priced cement, while in the long term, it could eliminate competitors. Once a monopoly situation is reached, Beijing could then be in a position to dictate prices, and price controls imposed by Colombo may effectively have no meaning.

A second concern for Sri Lanka that it would have to consider is the drastic cut down in employment not only at Holcim Lanka which employs directly or indirectly 1000 Sri Lankans, but across the industry with its competitors closing down.

A third concern is the fact that Sri Lanka has no anti-dumping laws to protect local industry.

Potential buyers of Holcim Lanka are reportedly also anxious about the firm suppressing important information.

Earlier this year, Sri Lanka's Commerce Secretary T.M.K.B. Tennakoon wrote to the company's Chief Executive Officer Holcim Bernard Fontana and drew his attention to the fact that the government is not making a profit out of the lease agreement entered into in August 1993.

Under that agreement, Holcim was given the right to extract from 5,141 acres of cement quarry land in Aruwakkalu, Puttalam.

The commerce secretary said then that the only revenue being received was in the form of lease rental and a royalty payment to the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB). It was also pointed out to Holcim that it was behind on rent payment, which was unacceptable when the firm is making huge profits.

Holcim invested USD 26 million as part of the 1993 agreement which gave the company the right to extract limestone for 50 years. The ministry claims that Holcim has extracted nearly 4000 metric tons of limestone, the value of which is in the region of Rs. 48 billion.

Holcim has enjoyed a 12-year tax holiday from funds borrowed from within Sri Lanka, the commerce ministry has claimed, according to a report appearing in Sri Lanka's Daily News.

Sri Lanka, therefore, needs to be protective about its local industry, especially against China.

The Chinese already have access to the Colombo and Hambantota Ports, and giving them further access to the ports of Trincomalee and Galle may raise concerns. Allowing Beijing to get a foothold in the country with no conceivable benefits to Colombo, could raise political eyebrows.

Financial experts in Sri Lanka have warned that more than a third of Sri Lanka's revenue goes toward servicing USD eight billion in Chinese debt. Officials also fear that Sri Lanka is caught in what they describe as the "China [debt] trap, and once you are in it, it is very difficult to get out."

The limestone quarry in Puttalam belongs to the public sector Cement Corporation and is on lease to Holcim.

The government hopes that, if it successfully purchased the company, it can reduce the price of cement in the country.

Local press reports have said that apart from China, there are six other bidders -- from the UAE, Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Holcim Lanka's assets include two packing plants in Galle and Trincomalee, a cement plant in Puttalam and a cement grinding plant in Galle. (ANI with inputs)

SRF limited announces Q4 and FY17 financial results

Updated: May 22, 2017 18:51 IST     

New Delhi [India], May 22 (ANI-NewsVoir): SRF Limited, a chemical based multi-business entity engaged in the manufacturing of industrial and specialty intermediates today announced its consolidated financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended March 31, 2017 under Indian Accounting Standards (IndAS). The company's audited results were approved by the Board of Directors in a meeting held today in Gurgaon, Haryana.

Full Story >>

CBDT signs two more Unilateral APA's with Indian taxpayers

Updated: May 22, 2017 18:45 IST     

New Delhi [India], May 22 (ANI): The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Monday announced entering into two Unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APA) with Indian taxpayers on May 4 and 11 respectively, out of which one agreement holds a rollback provision.

Full Story >>

Bangalore [India], May 22 (ANI-Businesswire India): Relocating household goods from one place/city to another can be really one of the most challenging, hectic and stressful events of life. Whether it is a local shift within the city of Bangalore or relocating home from this city to another city of India, it would be a complicated and time-consuming process for an individual to do it all alone. There are lots of hassles, tedious tasks and unpleasant issues involved with the process of relocation which can pester an individual badly. On the other hands, hiring services of one of the credible and competent packers and movers in Bangalore would be a great decision with respect to simplify the relocating process and turn the circumstance into the easygoing and smooth affair.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], May 22 (ANI): Online recruitment marketplace AasaanJobs on Monday announced the roll out of its 'Interview scheduling' feature for employers and candidates, which will allow employers to specify and pick different time slots for scheduling interviews with job aspirants.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], May 22 (ANI): Schneider Electric the global specialist in energy management and automation on Monday announced appointment of Venkatraman Swaminathan as the Vice-President, IT Division - India Zone.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], May 22 (ANI-NewsVoir): Pearl Academy, India's leading private institution in design, fashion, creative businesses and media, concluded its ten-day long campaign - #MumbaiByDesign which celebrated the quintessential Mumbai through a series of initiatives across the city.

Full Story >>

foodpanda raises USD 431.45 million from Naspers

Updated: May 22, 2017 15:30 IST     

New Delhi [India], May 22 (ANI): Online marketplace for food delivery foodpanda on Monday announced receiving of investment worth USD 431.45 million from global internet and entertainment group Naspers into its parent company Delivery Hero.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], May 22 (ANI): Fintech start-up Zeta, which offers digital employee benefits for tax optimisation, has tied up with Sodexo Benefits and Rewards India for administration of digital employee benefits in the country.

Full Story >>

Mumbai [India], May 22 (ANI-Businesswire India): The India Meteorological Department (IMD's) recent prediction of favourable monsoon in India is likely to have a positive impact for companies in the agricultural sector like Ruchi Soya Industries Limited.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], May 22 (ANI): As per the joint study conducted by ASSOCHAM and PwC, in India, about 10 to 15 percent of wastes produced by industries are hazardous and the generation of hazardous wastes is increasing at the rate of two to five percent per year.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], May 22 (ANI-NewsVoir): It's time for hunger pangs and cravings for home cooked food well, Noodles, Pastas, dosas, juices, smoothies and soups. Just name it and you will be up for making it! If your kitchen is equipped with the perfect Kitchen Appliances, making a variety of these scrumptious, healthy, fresh and hygienic dishes is no longer a time consuming process. "KENT Smart chef appliances" has introduced the all new and innovative KENT Noodles & Pasta Maker and KENT Turbo Grinder and Blender to cook healthy and cook fast.

Full Story >>

To land CPEC-linked jobs, more Pak students learning Chinese

Updated: May 22, 2017 12:41 IST     

Islamabad [Pakistan], May 22 (ANI): The impact of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, it seems, is being felt in educational institutions in the country, for more and more than students have reportedly taken to learning the Chinese language for short and long term benefit.

Full Story >>

Maharashtra Assembly passes GST Bill

Updated: May 22, 2017 12:02 IST     

New Delhi [India], May 22 (ANI): The Maharashtra Assembly on Monday passed the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill in a session of its lower house.

Full Story >>

Bangalore [India], May 22 (ANI-Businesswire India): L&T Technology Services Limited, a leading global pure-play engineering services company, announced it has been positioned in the "Winners Circle" by HfS Research, The Services Research Company in

Full Story >>

Mumbai [India], May 22 (ANI-Businesswire India):Mumbai-based Omkar Realtors and Developers, a market leader in redevelopment and luxury residential projects, created history in India's real estate sector with a grand gathering of 1200-plus channel partners from across Mumbai, India, Dubai, GCC region, Singapore, Hong Kong who attended the promotional event by Omkar's for its new product offering 'SIGNET by Omkar', a project offering efficient and compact 1 and 2 BHKs at Malad East on Western Express Highway.

Full Story >>

MoS Finance confirms July 1 roll out of 'all-inclusive' GST

Updated: May 22, 2017 08:40 IST     

Bareily (Uttar Pradesh) [India], May 22 (ANI): Following up from the meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) council on May 18 and 19, Minister of State for Finance Santosh Gangwar said the stage is set for the scheduled roll out of the GST Bill on July 1st.

Full Story >>

GST is Modi Govt.'s 'biggest achievement': ASSOCHAM

Updated: May 21, 2017 13:02 IST     

New Delhi [India], May 21 (ANI): With the roll out of the 'revolutionary' Goods and Services Tax bill scheduled for July 1, the ASSOCHAM has perceived this as the present government's 'biggest achievement', facilitating digitisation, financial and inclusion, while public investment on railways and power distribution infrastructure is set to change the structure of the economy, the chamber said.

Full Story >>

Omkar Realtors introduces 'SIGNET by Omkar'

Updated: May 20, 2017 17:46 IST     

Mumbai [India], May 20 (ANI-Businesswire India): Mumbai-based Omkar Realtors & Developers, a market leader in redevelopment and luxury residential projects, announced the launch of 'SIGNET by Omkar', a project offering efficient 1 and 2 BHK homes at Malad East on Western Express Highway.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], May 20 (ANI-NewsVoir): Policybazaar.com (twitter handle: @policybazaar_in), India's largest insurance website and comparison portal, has launched a new advertising campaign with the tagline "Cancer se ladai main insurance kaam aega" (insurance will come handy in fight against cancer).

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], May 19 (ANI-NewsVoir): Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and Co. provided legal and strategic advice to HP Inc. (HP) from a competition law perspective in relation to its proposed acquisition of the global printer business of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

Full Story >>